Live Review: Title Fight @ Marquis Theater (3/9)
Live Review: Title Fight / Merchandise / Power Trip @ Marquis Theater, Denver, CO (3/9/2015)
Going into the Title Fight show at the Marquis Theater on Monday, I was unsure about many things. First was Title Fight’s recent change in sound from post-hardcore to shoegaze: would they be able to switch from their new material to their old songs without the set feeling jarring? On top of that, the show’s lineup was oddly put together, moving from thrashy hardcore to downbeat jangle pop to the emo-gone-shoegaze of Title Fight. I was half-convinced it was going to be a disaster. Luckily, I was wrong (for the most part).
Up first were Power Trip, a crossover thrash group heavy on the solos of metal and the breakdowns of hardcore. It was an odd opener choice for Title Fight, and the band knew it; early on in the set, the singer promised the crowd Title Fight and Merchandise would be on soon and apologized to those who were “wondering what the fuck is going on.” A small percentage of the crowd was definitely there solely for them, though; a hardcore dancing pit broke out and there were plenty of people punching and kicking the air to their hearts’ content. While that form of “moshing” always annoyed me at shows, the band themselves were solid and there were riffs, solos and heaviness galore to enjoy. Having seen a lot of awful, bro-y hardcore groups in my day, I’m glad to say these fellas are much better than most.
Tampa, FL’s Merchandise were next and proved to be the complete opposite of Power Trip. Frontman Carson Cox strutted on-stage in a flamboyantly red jacket and an angsty-90s-kid haircut, drunk as a skunk and ready to croon. And that he did. The band put out After the End last fall, which departed from earlier releases’ noisy post-punk and experimented with a downer-pop sound. Problem is, most of the songs are snoozefests, and they had a hard time gripping the punk crowd. I love Cox’s melodramatic singing voice, he’s an incredibly fun frontman to watch (at least partially due to his lack of sobriety), and the band as a whole hit a groove every now and again. But I must say they were far better when I saw them two years ago.
In a sense, the openers for the show made sense; Power Trip and Merchandise almost represented the two sides of Title Fight in 2015 taken to the extreme. On the other hand, it was still a little weird. Power Trip seemed to fare fine with the younger emo fans, but I’m pretty sure Merchandise bored a few punks to death during their set.
But it was immediately apparent who most of the audience came to see once Kingston, PA’s Title Fight came on stage. The band had come through five months ago with Circa Survive, but that didn’t stop their fans from coming out in droves again. During their show at the Ogden in November, the guys looked a little lethargic and bored, but releasing a new album (Hyperview hit shelves in February) seems to have gotten them back on track. They brought their A-game and put on the most energetic set I’ve seen them play. They looked to be having a great time and bassist/co-vocalist Ned Russin didn’t even get upset when a crowd-surfer almost kicked him in the face, collapsed onto his pedal board and then had the nerve to take his mic and sing an entire verse of a song (good on you, Ned, I would’ve been very tempted to clock him).
My concern about mixing their shoegaze material with their pop punk stuff proved to be an empty one; they switched between the two with the greatest of ease, simply adding a little bit of chorus pedal to their old tracks and only talking between every three or four songs. It sounded very good and surprisingly congruous. I won’t pretend to be a fan of Hyperview (believe it or not, the world does not need another dime-a-dozen shoegaze group), but the band brought plenty of energy to the new tracks and made them much more enjoyable to listen to than on the record. Older material (mostly from 2012’s Floral Green, but they dipped into earlier stuff here and there as well) got a much more raucous response from the crowd, but the crowd seemed to enjoy the Hyperview cuts as well.
While I’m not impressed with the new direction the band is heading in, Title Fight did bring a very solid show to the Marquis on a pleasant Monday evening. The choices for the opener slots were odd, but did lead to a varied, mostly enjoyable night. Even if you’re not a fan of Hyperview, don’t use that as an excuse to miss them if they come to town again soon.